Japan-based general trading company ITOCHU Corporation and kurkku – a firm that promotes environmentally conscious lifestyle through sales of sustainably sourced food and apparel – have pledged to improve the income of Indian farmers, their health, and the environment, by scaling up production of organically produced cotton, which is free of synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers and has an approximately 30 percent higher market price.
September 14, 2012
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September 14, 2012
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If a company is going to make a difference in today’s world, it’s going to have to think differently.
An amazing cooperative
Our story starts back in January of 1988—a time when family farms were on the brink of extinction. We were a handful of farmers in Southwestern Wisconsin’s coulee region and we shared a love of the land. We also shared the belief that a new, sustainable approach to agriculture could help family farms and rural communities survive.
April 10, 2012
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We are putting chemicals originally developed as neuro toxins in the second world war on our food and therefore in our food, our rivers, our soil and our oceans. This affects those who apply the chemicals, and those who consume them as well as those who are nearby when the application is happening or afterwards.
The following information is a copy and paste from Medscape, I have highlighted a few sentences
Frances M Dyro, MD Associate Professor of Neurology, New York Medical College; Neuromuscular Section, Department of Neurology, Westchester Medical Center
Organophosphates (OPs) are chemical substances originally produced by the reaction of alcohols and phosphoric acid. In the 1930s, organophosphates were used as insecticides, but the German military developed these substances as neurotoxins in World War II. They function as cholinesterase inhibitors, thereby affecting neuromuscular transmission.
Organophosphate insecticides, such as diazinon, chlorpyrifos, disulfoton, azinphos-methyl, and fonofos, have been used widely in agriculture and in household applications as pesticides. Over 25,000 brands of pesticides are available in the United States, and their use is monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Diazinon was sold in the United States for 48 years with 14.7 million pounds sold annually. It was the most widely used ingredient in lawn and garden sprays in the United States. Diazinon was found under the brand names Real Kill, Ortho, and Spectracide. In the past decade, the EPA reached an agreement with the pesticide industry to end the production of diazinon by March 2001 for indoor use and June 2003 for lawn and garden use. Chlorpyrifos (Dursban) was involved in a negotiated phaseout in June 2000. These phaseouts resulted from recognition of the special risk that these substances posed for children. Four percent of patients presenting to poison control centers report pesticide exposure. Of those patients, 34% are children younger than 6 years.
Toxic nerve agents used by the military are often of the organophosphate group; an example is sarin, the nerve gas used in a terrorist action in Tokyo in 1995. In anticipation of military use of OP neurotoxins during the Gulf War, the US military was given prophylactic agents which some believe caused some of the symptoms of Gulf War syndrome.
With the emergence of the West Nile virus in the northeastern United States, programs of spraying have been implemented in large urban areas, in particular New York’s Central Park.
Controversy exists regarding the long-term effects of exposure to low levels of potentially neurotoxic substances.
Therapeutic uses of organophosphates
Several organophosphate agents are being tried therapeutically. Cholinesterase inhibition, which in large doses makes these agents effective pesticides, also may be useful in other doses for treating dementia. Metrifonate has been used to treat schistosomiasis and is undergoing trials for the treatment of primary degenerative dementia.
The organophosphates pyridostigmine and physostigmine are carbamate anticholinesterases that have been used for many years for the treatment of myasthenia gravis. Although the short-duration anticholinesterases are generally safe, reports of their abuse are associated with a picture similar to pesticide intoxication.
One of the author’s patients had been diagnosed erroneously as a myasthenic. Long-term “therapeutic” doses of physostigmine chemically altered her neuromuscular junctions to the point where she had to be slowly weaned from the drug.
Sung and others have reported on the ability of these substances to induce nicotinic receptor modulation. This explains the action of these drugs and may result in development of more effective agents.
Historic and new uses of organophosphates
The first organophosphate was synthesized in 1850. Physostigmine was used to treat glaucoma in the 1870s. By the 1930s, synthetic cholinesterase inhibitors were being used for skeletal muscle and autonomic disorders. Some organophosphates were tried in the treatment of parkinsonism.
In 1986, testing began for tacrine, the first cholinesterase inhibitor to be tried for Alzheimer disease; it was released for clinical use in 1993. It is no longer in use. The blood-brain barrier has been the limiting factor in developing a cholinesterase inhibitor for use in dementia. Drugs such as rivastigmine are now widely used. Reported adverse effects are nausea and vomiting, with resultant weight loss because of the increase in cholinergic activity. It has been shown to be useful in mild to moderately severe Alzheimer disease.
Pyridostigmine has been tried for the fatigue of postpolio syndrome but showed no benefit.
April 10, 2012
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“How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind ” ~ A Silent Spring; Rachel Carson 1962
“Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest. According to the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants, 9 of the 12 most dangerous and persistent organic chemicals are pesticides. Pesticides are categorized into four main substituent chemicals: herbicides; fungicides; insecticides and bactericides.” – Wikipedia
On the left an organic farm whose main crop is citrus. This farm is shipping to other islands where the demand for organic produce is steadily growing. On the right a citrus farm using pesticides to kill everything at ground level. Considering that those who eat organic have much lower levels of chemical toxins in their body which do you want to eat?
From the first time I saw the results of gramaxone I was blown away that people were applying something that killed the foliage of plants almost immediately to the very soil they grew their food in. Even more shocking they were applying it around the food they were growing and soon eating.
I started researching this chemical – a chemical local people were told was “safe” – I talked to one farmer who remembered representatives of the agricultural companies coming out to the farmers fields in lab coats to tell them how “safe” it was. A friend of mine remembers a UNESCO calendar advertising how easy life would be with gramoxone.
In Canada and around the world the same information was being disseminated about other pesticides and the results have been disastorous.
In the past only a few spoke out against this deluge of basically unproven chemicals being poured on our soil; those who did were soon silenced.
It was the 1990′s when I realized that a chemical pesticide known as agent orange caused a lot of sickness in Vietnam Vets - I began to feel it was my duty to inform. I realized that the chemicals in the lethal blend used in the Vietnam War were used on the food we eat too.
AFTER YEARS OF DENYING ANY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AGRICULTURAL CHEMICALS AND DISEASE IN HUMANS; unrefutable evidence is showing that there is undeniable proof that agricultural chemicals do cause disease. Study after study is showing the links. Class action suits are gathering all over the world. If you or I caused this many people to get sick or die we would be jailed for life!
Some of our agricultural chemicals are neuro toxins first used in the second world war.
Farmers here are still using these dangerous chemicals many of them as in the case of gramoxone are illegal in other parts of the world.
Where ever I travel I find that farmers often say “Oh I don’t use those chemicals for the food I eat; just the food I sell!”
One way to encourage local farmers to grow organic is to request it; pay a little more for quality organic food and the farmers will address the need.
Nobody can deny the connections to disease now:
Pesticide exposure linked to lower birth weights and earlier birth Lower birth weights and premature births are linked to respiratory problems and problems with learning and behaviour.
Canadian Hydro Sprayed Agent Orange to Clear Corridors “The Toronto Star interviewed former Hydro employees, including summer students and senior managers, who were assured the chemicals were harmless. The illnesses they’ve been dealing with the past few decades tell a different story.”
Agent Orange Soaked Ontario Teens - Forestry use of Agent Orange
The Agent Orange Association of Canada - this small group got an immediate compensation package of $20,000 CDN because agent orange (gramoxone) was sprayed in this army base.
Inquiry into sheep dip ‘sickness’. Hundreds of Scottish farmers allege that organophosphate dips have caused serious physical and psychological damage.
Rotenone and Paraquat Linked to Parkinson’s Disease. Participants with Parkinsons Disease were 2.5 times more likely than controls to have reported use of rotenone or paraquat (gramoxone).
Birth Defects from agricultural chemicals. The coalition testified pregnant women and developing fetuses are particularly vulnerable to the harmful effects of pesticides, which can cause spontaneous abortion, growth retardation, structural birth defects, or functional deficits.
The Veterans Association – Veterans exposed to Herbicides Vietnam Veterans who contract any of the diseases listed on this page are able to get financial assistance.
The national birth defects registry shows the effects of agent orange on the next generation!
Study Links Pesticides to Parkinson’s Studies all over the world link pesticides to Parkinson’s; I just heard of a person in their mid 20′s with the start of this disease.
Atrazine in well waters in agricultural areas Concentrations as low as 0.1 ppb have been shown to alter the development of sex characteristics in male frogs.
France’s highest court has ruled that US agrochemical giant Monsanto had not told the truth about the safety of its best-selling weed-killer, Roundup.
Monsanto is being brought to court by dozens of Argentinean tobacco farmers who say that the biotech giant knowingly poisoned them with herbicides and pesticides and subsequently caused ”devastating birth defects” in their children.
January 22, 2012
Dominica is a leading producer of Bay Oil; the West Indian Bay Oil is antiseptic and the scent is heavenly; we export the oil all over the world.
I have been using and promoting the use of bay oil as a cleaning agent for over 20 years.
I utilized this oil to make my own cleaning products for Eco Clean, an ecologically friendly cleaning company I owned and operated in Canada people raved about the scent.
Pimenta racemosa. Indigenous to northern South America and the Caribbean, this tropical bay is a sturdy, evergreen tree of the Myrtle family which has been cultivated for commercial purposes for 80-90 years in Dominica. Not to be confused with the bay leaf or laurel (laurus nobilis) native to the Mediterranean area.
To grab a handful of these leaves and steep a tea is truly heavenly and a gift from the earth ….. but that is a whole other post!
Bay oil is used in herbal healing preparations, perfumes and cosmetics of all kinds and also for making Bay Rum.
There are at least 3 kinds of Bay tree grown throughout Dominica but the distilleries I know use the most common bay and are concentrated in the Carib Territories and the south east of the island. As you tour the island you can often smell the distillery before you see it!
The oil is produced in several small distilleries, many of which are run as co-operatives, by distilling the steam from boiling leaves, a traditional process using fire that gives Dominican oil its distinctive dark colour and sweet, spicy, aroma. This oil can be used for many, many things and the agro processing waste is traditionally used as a soil enhancement.
Recently we have been producing a more highly refined bay oil extracted by steam distillation of the leaves. This is a clear oil that is claimed to be more potent and is a natural product but I love the dark oil made traditionally and I hope efforts are made to keep this knowledge alive.
I clean with bay oil and wrote my first article about bay oil for the Times over 10 years ago. It is a great cleaning agent for almost all surfaces. It may stain a pourous surface so test it out before using if in doubt. It imparts a nice scent which is said to repel cockroaches and some other pests plus it kills bacteria without impinging on the environment.
I would hope other niche markets for tropical bay oil may also evolve as medicinal uses are further investigated.
It is, for instance, an important ingredient, in a herbal supplement promoted for aiding stress associated with the withdrawal symptoms people suffer when quitting smoking.
The bay tree itself is hardy and can even be grown on poor, rocky soils, we could take advantage of this and the fact that unlike some other plant extracts, it is not easy to produce an acceptable synthetic substitute, as bay oil is a particularly complex essential oil with over 20 components. We all know what happened to vanilla when they found a chemical copy.
This oil is easy to store and ship – as most essential oils do, it has a long shelf life. We could truly become the world source for organic bay oil!
Dominica Essential Oils and Spices Co-op right here in Dominica is the best place to get bay oil; you can buy the oil right there in small medium and large bottles. Once in a while they don’t have butafter over 15 years of purchasing there, that has hardly ever happened to me.
Buy Bay Oil add it to your mop water or cleaning water – just a few drops required and a few drops of any liquid soap (liquid soaps are very similar - dish soap and shampoo are not that different and they rarely contain phosphates) to distribute the oil evenly through the water; you will be amazed how easy it is to clean greenly.
Cleaning with Bay Oil means we keep the environment clean too!
July 19, 2011
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“For far too long humankind has set itself apart from the world it inhabits – attempting to control and subvert natural forces, using the earths resourses freely without replenishing them. ~ Bound to the Earth by James Swan Ph.D and Roberta Swan
Dr. Don Huber, a senior soil scientist at Purdue University, believes the appearance and prevalence of a newly discovered organism that may have the potential to cause infertility and spontaneous abortion in farm animals may be related to the nation’s over reliance on the weed killer known as Roundup and/or to something about the genetically engineered Roundup-Ready crops. In a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, the professor called on the federal government to immediately stop deregulation of roundup ready crops, particularly roundup ready alfalfa.
Below is the full text of the letter:
Dear Secretary Vilsack:
A team of senior plant and animal scientists have recently brought to my attention the discovery of an electron microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings. Based on a review of the data, it is widespread, very serious, and is in much higher concentrations in Roundup Ready (RR) soybeans and corn—suggesting a link with the RR gene or more likely the presence of Roundup. This organism appears NEW to science!
This is highly sensitive information that could result in a collapse of US soy and corn export markets and significant disruption of domestic food and feed supplies. On the other hand, this new organism may already be responsible for significant harm (see below). My colleagues and I are therefore moving our investigation forward with speed and discretion, and seek assistance from the USDA and other entities to identify the pathogen’s source, prevalence, implications, and remedies.
We are informing the USDA of our findings at this early stage, specifically due to your pending decision regarding approval of RR alfalfa. Naturally, if either the RR gene or Roundup itself is a promoter or co-factor of this pathogen, then such approval could be a calamity. Based on the current evidence, the only reasonable action at this time would be to delay deregulation at least until sufficient data has exonerated the RR system, if it does.
For the past 40 years, I have been a scientist in the professional and military agencies that evaluate and prepare for natural and manmade biological threats, including germ warfare and disease outbreaks. Based on this experience, I believe the threat we are facing from this pathogen is unique and of a high risk status. In layman’s terms, it should be treated as an emergency.
A diverse set of researchers working on this problem have contributed various pieces of the puzzle, which together presents the following disturbing scenario:
Unique Physical Properties
This previously unknown organism is only visible under an electron microscope (36,000X), with an approximate size range equal to a medium size virus. It is able to reproduce and appears to be a micro-fungal-like organism. If so, it would be the first such micro-fungus ever identified. There is strong evidence that this infectious agent promotes diseases of both plants and mammals, which is very rare.
Pathogen Location and Concentration
It is found in high concentrations in Roundup Ready soybean meal and corn, distillers meal, fermentation feed products, pig stomach contents, and pig and cattle placentas.
Linked with Outbreaks of Plant Disease
The organism is prolific in plants infected with two pervasive diseases that are driving down yields and farmer income—sudden death syndrome (SDS) in soy, and Goss’ wilt in corn. The pathogen is also found in the fungal causative agent of SDS (Fusarium solani fsp glycines).
Implicated in Animal Reproductive Failure
Laboratory tests have confirmed the presence of this organism in a wide variety of livestock that have experienced spontaneous abortions and infertility. Preliminary results from ongoing research have also been able to reproduce abortions in a clinical setting.
The pathogen may explain the escalating frequency of infertility and spontaneous abortions over the past few years in US cattle, dairy, swine, and horse operations. These include recent reports of infertility rates in dairy heifers of over 20%, and spontaneous abortions in cattle as high as 45%.
For example, 450 of 1,000 pregnant heifers fed wheatlege experienced spontaneous abortions. Over the same period, another 1,000 heifers from the same herd that were raised on hay had no abortions. High concentrations of the pathogen were confirmed on the wheatlege, which likely had been under weed management using glyphosate.
In summary, because of the high titer of this new animal pathogen in Roundup Ready crops, and its association with plant and animal diseases that are reaching epidemic proportions, we request USDA’s participation in a multi-agency investigation, and an immediate moratorium on the deregulation of RR crops until the causal/predisposing relationship with glyphosate and/or RR plants can be ruled out as a threat to crop and animal production and human health.
It is urgent to examine whether the side-effects of glyphosate use may have facilitated the growth of this pathogen, or allowed it to cause greater harm to weakened plant and animal hosts. It is well-documented that glyphosate promotes soil pathogens and is already implicated with the increase of more than 40 plant diseases; it dismantles plant defenses by chelating vital nutrients; and it reduces the bioavailability of nutrients in feed, which in turn can cause animal disorders. To properly evaluate these factors, we request access to the relevant USDA data.
I have studied plant pathogens for more than 50 years. We are now seeing an unprecedented trend of increasing plant and animal diseases and disorders. This pathogen may be instrumental to understanding and solving this problem. It deserves immediate attention with significant resources to avoid a general collapse of our critical agricultural infrastructure.
COL (Ret.) Don M. Huber
Emeritus Professor, Purdue University
APS Coordinator, USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System (NPDRS)
Interview with Dr. Huber
September 8, 2010
“Sale of organic foods is one of the fastest growing market segments within the global food industry” ~
I started this blog with one of my goals being the promoting of Dominica as an organic island. We are far from that; gramaxone dead zones are all over the island; but it does not hurt to dream!
On the positive side there is a new organic certification programme about to be launched. This program is truly amazing in that it is available to all; egalitarian certification is the only way to go.
I will write more later about this system in the weeks to come.
For now I just wanted to link you to the newest study of the higher quality of food that organic agriculture produces.
Sale of organic foods is one of the fastest growing market segments within the global food industry. People often buy organic food because they believe organic farms produce more nutritious and better tasting food from healthier soils. Here we tested if there are significant differences in fruit and soil quality from 13 pairs of commercial organic and conventional strawberry agroecosystems in California.
September 1, 2010
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“You must be the change you want to be in the world” ~ Mahatma Ghandi
A University in Malaysia has found a way to create biodegradeable plastic with agricultural waste! Nuff raspact to a University dedicated to this kind of program!
How wonderful to see the new ideas forth coming from the universities of the world.
I am not sure we need plastic and I would like to see the environmental impacts of making this plastic in large quantities. Studies would need to be done to see if this plastic leeches into what it contains too. We do not want another BPA disaster.
There is hope for a sustainable ecologically aware future!
October 30, 2009
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“There is scope for the development and growth of natural and organic agriculture in Jamaica through a national policy framework for the sector” ~ Dr. David Lowe; Head of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries’ Agro-Investment Corporation; Jamaica
He was speaking at the opening session of a two-day workshop on business opportunities in the European natural and organic products market.
I like what the Jamaican Wellness Cluster has been doing. It would be a great idea for all those interested in promoting wellness to come together to cooperate, educate and learn. We need Dominica Wellness Clusters.
October 30, 2009
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On the occasion of the World Food Day, agro-industry proposes a second green revolution based on genetic engineering. This suits their interests but does not contribute to feeding the poor. Organic Agriculture based on its encouraging concepts, experience and examples proposes a paradigm-shift in food security policies to ensure that hunger is history by 2050.